|Characters in the same phonetic series (多) (Zhengzhang, 2003)
||*ʔl'aːlʔ, *ʔl'aːls, *ʔr'aːls, *hr'aːl, *l̥ʰjaːlʔ, *l̥ʰjalʔ, *l̥ʰjɯs
||*ʔl'aːls, *l̥ʰaːl, *l̥ʰaːn
||*naːlʔ, *l̥ʰjalʔ, *lal
||*ʔljalʔ, *l̥ʰjalʔ, *ɦljalʔ
||*l̥ʰjalʔ, *ɦljal, *ɦljalʔ
Ideogrammic compound (會意) – two pieces of meat (肉). In the bronze script, 肉 was corrupted into 夕 due to visual similarity. The form with 夕 was inherited in later scripts.
Chi (2010) suggests that meat is scarce in ancient times, so two pieces of meat is a lot, citing a passage from Mencius:
七十者可以食肉矣。 [MSC, trad. and simp.][▼ expand/hide]
- Qīshí zhě kěyǐ shí ròu yǐ. [Pinyin]
- Persons of seventy years may eat meat.
Chang Ping-chuan suggests that it is the duplicative nature of the character that gives the meaning of "many", just like in 林 (“forest”), from 木 (“tree; wood”).
Related to Proto-Tai *ʰlaːjᴬ (“many, much”), whence Thai หลาย (lǎai, “many”).
- many; much; a lot of; numerous
- Antonyms: 少 (shǎo)
― Jiēshàng yǒu hěn duō rén.
― There is a lot of
people in the street
- (after an amount) over; and more; more than
― liǎng nián duō
― more than
- (used in comparison structure 得多, 多了) much more; a lot more; far more
― Tā bǐ wǒ gāo de duō.
― He is a lot taller than I am.
― Bìngrén jīntiān hǎo duō le.
― The patient is much better today.
― Wǒ yīnggāi duō yùndòng.
― I should exercise more
/ 冚多张被 [Cantonese]
― kam2 do1 zoeng1 pei5 [Jyutping]
― put on one more
今天比昨天冷，得多穿一件外套。 [MSC, trad. and simp.]
- Jīntiān bǐ zuótiān lěng, děi duō chuān yī jiàn wàitào. [Pinyin]
- Today is colder than yesterday, so you have to put on one more jacket.
- extra; in excess
- (used in question) how; how much; what
― Nǐ duō gāo?
― How tall are you?
- (emphasis in exclamations) so; how; what
― Kàn tā duō piàoliàng a!
― Look how pretty she is!
她戴的帽子多可愛呀！ [MSC, trad.]
她戴的帽子多可爱呀！ [MSC, simp.]
- Tā dài de màozǐ duō kě'ài ya! [Pinyin]
- What an adorable hat she is wearing! / The hat she is wearing is so adorable!
- to have a lot
- to have more; to have too much; to have too many
- (Cantonese) few; little
― gam3 doe1 doe1 [Jyutping]
(meaning “just very few”)
- (Cantonese) Short for 多士 (duōshì, “toast”).
- (over, more than): When the number is smaller or equal to 10, 多 can be put after the measure word. If it is bigger than ten, 多 has to be put before the measure word.
- (more): Placing 多 after the verb is correct but it is less natural than placing it before.